• Final Fantasy Record Keeper Review


    Square-Enix has long been fascinated with the mobile market. If it were announced tomorrow that Final Fantasy XVI is going to be a mobile title the response from many fans would likely be weary acceptance . Square has struggled in the mobile market with ports of its older Final Fantasy titles being its best offerings. Original titles like Crystal Defenders, Airborne Brigade and All The Bravest range from mediocre to a cynical cash grab with the Final Fantasy name crudely stapled to it. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Final Fantasy Record Keeper is the latest attempt at capitalising on our nostalgia for the series we all know and love, released Ė for free, no less Ė on iOS and Android last week. Since I beat Type-0 HD Iíve been mildly addicted to it, so Iím going to dive right in and tell you what I think of it.

    There seemed to be a myth on our beloved Eyes on Final Fantasy that Record Keeper was going to be an educational title to help kids type. Letís put that to bed. Itís not. The plot, if you can call it that, is that thereís a gallery with images of Final Fantasy moments, and you can go into the images and live those moments. Sounds lovely, right? Well, naturally itís all gone a bit tits up and some evil force is possessing all of the records. You, the titular Record Keeper, have to go jump into the paintings, rough house some baddies and restore the paintings, unlocking more in the process.


    Dr. Mog, "Legitimate Pharmaceutical Supplier" and Tyro, local tweaker.

    The gameplay consists of battles and improving yourself for said battles. That is it. I canít fault the battle system. Theyíre like a streamlined Final Fantasy battle system and a lot more fast paced. Each character can equip two abilities depending on their class Ė there is no explanation of what each characterís class is and so itís a matter of trial and error as to what they can equip, which is helpful Ė and they also have a Soul Break, which is of course a limit break. It works well. Enemies from Final Fantasy games have been accurately recreated. The Mist Dragon turns into Mist and will pummel you if you attack it like this. Whelk from FFVI has his special lightning shell. They even give you that same garbled warning about the Guard Scorpion from FFVII and its tail.

    There is an ďautoĒ button that means your characters will just attack, attack, attack. No abilities, no soul breaks, just attack. You can easily clear out whole dungeons with the Auto button and literally find yourself not having to lift a finger. Where you will find the real challenge is in the bosses of Record Keeper. There is such a disparity between the difficulty of random enemies and the bosses that it feels like youíve missed a step up in difficulty somewhere, as if the game has suddenly jumped from Easy to Hard with no Normal in between. The bosses are a definite challenge, particularly as you are facing them after completing a dungeon marathon with no chances to rest (unless you expend precious Mithril or Gems, but more on those in a second) in between.


    When you have enemies called Slag Worms the jokes just write themselves.

    Why bother with all this fighting? Whatís my reward? Well, it isnít for the story. Youíll get a few lines describing the events of that Final Fantasy with an accompanying blurry screenshot, which does little to stir the emotions. No, the whole point of the game is loot, loot, and more loot. Weapons, armour, gil and orbs are on hand. Abilities can be crafted from orbs, and thereís a surprisingly impressive selection of physical attacks, black magic, white magic and summons available for you to make. Both abilities and equipment can be upgraded using other equipment and orbs respectively, meaning youíll feel a real sense of progression. In some cases youíll even unlock characters, though at the moment only FFIV, VII and X characters have any representation alongside generic Final Fantasy job classes. Oh, and youíll also acquire 1 Mithril for each level you complete,

    And so at last we touch on the point of this exercise. Itís a free game, yes, but if you want to pay for things you certainly have that option. Itís not mandatory. I canít stress that enough. Itís not like Theatrhythm Mobile where you only had two songs, or All The Bravest where its raison d'Ítre was to see how many microtransactions its players could be made to pay. You only get a limited number of actions, or Stamina, before you have to wait for it to recharge. If your stamina runs out and you donít wait to wait, fork over one of your hard earned pieces of Mithril. Or alternatively, 100 Gems! Ah, Gems. Why is it always Gems in these games? 100 Gems will set you back 79p/99c. Want to buy 9,500 Gems? Hope you have £64.99 and $84.99 handy. Want to heal in between battles? 1 Mithril or 100 Gems. Died in a battle and want to retry that battle without taking on the entire dungeon again? Same price pal.


    I'd like to have an Evil Dream about Lilith if you know what I mean. And if you do, let me know because I sure as heck don't.

    I said I was addicted, and boy did they do a damn fine job in getting you hooked. The real lure is the relic draw. Pay 5 Mithril or 300 gems Ė youíll note the 1 = 100 Mithril to Gems ratio has suddenly changed here Ė and youíll get a shot at a rare and powerful piece of equipment! Boy do they ever beat you over the head with it. Want Cloudís Buster Sword? Sephirothís Masamune? For a limited time only, spin the wheel and take your chances! Of course, more often than not youíll end up with a really good Harp or six really good Gloves. Which is nice and all but like a gambler you feel if you try just one more time youíll get what you want, which is of course rather dangerous to your wallet.

    Also on offer is a different daily dungeon, offering wild and crazy rewards if you deign to log in and play that day. Gargantuan quests and events also appear. Thereís an event running until Saturday where you must climb the Shinra tower, clearing out each floor and fighting all your favourite bosses and then some. The characters of Tifa and Sephiroth joining your party are the lofty prizes on offer. A new event launched today with Dark Knight and Paladin Cecil being given to those who can climb Mount Ordeals. It starts off fun and interesting, and the bosses all do mimic the behaviour of their console counterparts but it soon feels like a grind.


    White/Power? I didn't realise I'd be fighting against the Ku Klux Flan.

    So despite my addiction, what stops me falling in love with Record Keeper is just how creatively bankrupt it is. Itís a trend in Final Fantasy games Ė Dissidia, Theatrhythm, the previously mentioned mobile abominations Ė where Square are just rehashing the same old characters going through the motions. No new stories are being told, thereís no character development, no emotion whatsoever. The music is just ripped from the Final Fantasy games and while theyíre all great songs, theyíre nothing we havenít been listening to for a decade or two.

    Only five games have levels at the time of writing, and only three of those have a large number of them: IV, V and VI. Is it a coincidence that those are the SNES games whose art donít need to be changed to fit Record Keeperís pixel style? Of course it isnít. At first I was really impressed that they had recreated elements of FFVII in pixel art, but it transpires itís just the assets for All The Bravest being re-used. That perhaps is the most disheartening thing about it. Itís like if you were eating out but sent your meal back as unsatisfactory and all they did was move items around the plate and tell you it was brand new.


    "ATTACK WHEN ITS TAIL IS UP! ...if you're a dumbass, that is! ...what do you mean 'unhelpful instructions'?"

    Square-Enix might argue that these tribute acts are what the fans want, and perhaps the success of the likes of Dissidia and Theatrhythm might indicate that. Final Fantasy Record Keeper is aimed at long time Final Fantasy fans Ė god help any newcomers who try to make sense of what is going on. That theyíre trying to squeeze more money out of their core fanbase, the ones who have shown the most loyalty, by serving up content from games weíve already likely bought on numerous systems is what saddens me about it. Square knows full well what their fans want when it comes to nostalgia. Itís just that a HD remake of something like FFVII takes a lot more courage and effort.

    Like my Type-0 HD review, you might read my criticisms and think of the whole review as a negative one. Itís not intended to be. Final Fantasy Record Keeper is a free game and Iíve spent a lot of time playing it. Iím going to recommend to you right now to download it if you havenít already, it is absolutely worth having a look at if youíre a Final Fantasy fan. But then I simply canít help but be frustrated when I play something decent with potential to be great, but corners have been cut to reduce time and costs. Iím addicted to your game, Square-Enix, but Iím not buying your Gems. Don't show anyone my account purchases please Square!

    The version reviewed and screenshots were the iOS version of Final Fantasy Record Keeper played on an iPhone 5C. You can pick it up on the App Store and Google Play for iOS and Android.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Final Fantasy Record Keeper Review started by Psychotic View original post
    Comments 10 Comments
    1. Shauna's Avatar
      Shauna -
      Nice read.

      I picked it up and was surprised how I fun I found it. It is literally just battles, and it's not usually the kind of thing I like. Like. Grinding is dull. I hate it. xD But it is so fast paced and easy to play that it's fine.

      I haven't played too much of it, but yeah. Good.
    1. Psychotic's Avatar
      Psychotic -
      Thank you! And yeah I think the streamlined battle system is perfect for mobile gaming.
    1. Spooniest's Avatar
      Spooniest -
      I'm going to pass. This doesn't sound like the kind of thing I want to support with my download. I refuse to play games that make you a) grind incessantly and b) pay as you go. I want to pay you up front for the entire game and have done with it.
    1. Shauna's Avatar
      Shauna -
      You don't have to buy anything to play the game, and in fact, I do not plan on spending a penny.
    1. Rantz's Avatar
      Rantz -
      It feels a bit buggy on Android and the constant loading times are kinda annoying. But it's pretty fun!
    1. Ayen's Avatar
      Ayen -
      You play as a moogle?

      I might have to rethink my 'no mobile game' policy.
    1. metagloria's Avatar
      metagloria -
      Quote Originally Posted by ToriJ View Post
      You play as a moogle?

      I might have to rethink my 'no mobile game' policy.
      I'm afraid not. Although Japan is about to get Mog from VI as a playable character, which means eventually he'll migrate to the US as well.
    1. Psychotic's Avatar
      Psychotic -
      Who's doing the new event where you can get Aerith?
    1. metagloria's Avatar
      metagloria -
      Quote Originally Posted by Psychotic View Post
      Who's doing the new event where you can get Aerith?
      I got her last night! Some of the other rewards are awesome too Ė you can grab non-elemental orbs, which are super hard to farm for. I can make my first Break abiility now, but I have to pick between Armor, Power, and Mental.
    1. Shauna's Avatar
      Shauna -
      Sounds like once you've played enough the events are easy enough to get the extra characters.

      I struggled through like two levels of the Shinra Building or w/e for Seph and couldn't do it. xD Need to play more!
  • EoFF on Twitter

  • Square Enix on Twitter